Why does the Libertarian Party(LP) seem fractured and boring right now? It’s because libertarian voters see the writing on the wall in future presidential contests: more of the same, status quo and statism. What was once the party of Ron Paul and Harry Browne has now metastasized into a Republican-lite manifestation.
In the 2016 election, the LP generated just under 4.5 million votes, or 3.28% of the national vote. The only other time the third party garnered one-million-plus was in 2012, when Libertarians received 1.275 million votes, or 1% of the electoral vote. Moving forward, the LP should be riding a wave of momentum, answering today’s problems with liberty-oriented solutions, and leading political discourse with ideas of free markets, capitalism, and liberty.
Former Governor William Weld (R-MA) recently stated that he is sticking with the LP, and has not ruled out the possibility of running for public office in the future. Will we see a Libertarian Party ticket showcasing the Weld name?
Bill Weld Leading Libertarians?
Speaking in an interview with Reason, the 2016 vice presidential candidate confirmed that he is staying with the party.
When asked if he was going to join Governor John Kasich (R-OH) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and their Third Way Party, Weld noted that he supports many different efforts that enhance the presence of third-party movements. However, despite his support for alternatives like the Unity Party or The Third Way, Weld will be affiliated with an L at the end of his name.
Although his libertarian record is questionable, Weld explained that the 2016 campaign has helped him change his positions on several issues. One of those was foreign policy:
“If I had to talk about an issue where the campaign changed my thinking, it probably would be interventionism. I do consider myself an internationalist, but that’s different from being an interventionist. I don’t like it when I see the body bags coming back. An air strike is maybe something a little different, to project U.S. military power, and Libertarians do believe in a very strong defense, so rattling the saber from time to time is not a bad thing. But U.S. land wars, it’ll be a cold day in July before I could think of a U.S. land war that was worth starting.
And Afghanistan leaves me totally cold. We can’t ever leave? Tell that to the British Empire and the Russian Soviet Union: It bled them both to death, and they both got out.”
Will the Libertarians see former Governor Gary Johnson (R-NM), too? Johnson has already announced that he is finished with politics, and that could be a great thing for the party in the future. Sticking his tongue out at a reporter, asking what Aleppo is, proposing carbon taxes, and flip-flopping on global trade pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were all things that defined his 2016 efforts.
What about Weld? That’s an entirely different story.
Is Bill Weld a Libertarian?
The ex-governor will mostly be known as a Hillary Clinton apologist. Not only did Weld refer to the former Secretary of State as “an old friend,” he also vouched for her on MSNBC a week before the election. He spent much of the final days on the campaign trail highlighting Clinton’s qualifications rather than encouraging Americans to cast a ballot for the Johnson/Weld ticket.
But it was his positions on the issues that really hurt his libertarian credentials.
He opposed a ban on partial-birth abortions, a heinous act that tortures the child and takes the life away from a human being. On guns, he endorsed a ban on “assault weapons.” On trade, he came out in favor of the TPP. As governor, he backed eminent domain efforts. Support for the Patriot Act, Social Security, and President George W. Bush were other blemishes on his record.
These aren’t libertarian stances.
Let’s also not forget that former Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) – the godfather of libertarianism – would not endorse or vote for the Libertarian ticket.
Moreover, when you have the likes of former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), Marvin Bush, and former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) considering lending their support to your campaign, you can only shiver.
Future of the Libertarian Party
Why did Libertarian delegates tap Johnson and Weld last year? It likely comes down to dollars and cents. Weld is an established Republican and is well-known in politics. This generates big bucks for fundraising efforts – it experienced a 20-fold increase in both registration and funding in 2016.
Whether this will lead to something meaningful in 2020 or not remains to be seen.
Perhaps it is time for the party to ditch electoral efforts at the federal level. It is safe to say that the Republicans and Democrats will hold on to power – and kill each other in the process – for many years to come. This doesn’t provide any third party an opportunity to hold the keys to the White House, or even a seat in Congress.
Jeff Deist of the Mises Institute suggested following Election Day that the party should allocate its resources to state and local elections. That’s probably great advice.
How can you win in Washington when you can’t even win in Biloxi, Mississippi?
But the Libertarian Party must provide a genuine alternative to the two-party system. If you’re still advocating for foreign interventions, invasion of privacy and welfare, just only on a reduced level, then you’re not really offering anything different than what the U.S. has had to endure over the last 30 years.
As Dr. Paul proved in 2008 and 2012, the concepts of freedom can be popular, and with socialism becoming the system of choice for so many young people today, the party needs to embrace the platform that he presented. Tapping Weld as the leader of the party is not going to win elections, or the minds of tomorrow’s voters.
Do you support Bill Weld leading the Libertarian Party? Let us know in the comments section!